647 Fulton St., Brooklyn
April 26-29, free (advance RSVP recommended)
The theme of this year’s BRIC OPEN festival is “Borders,” four days of free programs focusing on borders both real and imagined, physical and ideological. The series is being held in conjunction with the exhibition “Bordering the Imaginary: Art from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Their Diasporas,” a collection of sculpture, painting, installation, and video that, in the words of BRIC contemporary art vice president Elizabeth Ferrer, “consider the complicated interrelated histories of two Caribbean countries that share a single island, their tradition of cultural and social exchange, and the social injustices that have long burdened the people of both nations.” The exhibit includes impressive work by Raquel Paiewonsky, Pascal Meccariello, Fabiola Jean-Louis, iliana emilia garcia, Patrick Eugène, and others. “Borders” begins April 26 at 7:00 with “Art Intersecting Politics,” a conversation between Paola Mendoza and Darnell L. Moore, preceded by a spoken-word performance by slam poet Venessa Marco. Friday night’s schedule consists of a concert by Blitz the Ambassador, Lido Pimienta, and the Chamanas (as well as a screening of Blitz’s fifteen-minute film, Diasporadical Trilogia), the ninety-minute walking tour “Borders We Carry” led by Kamau Ware through downtown Brooklyn, an Immigration Action Fair, and Alicia Grullón’s “Empanar!” mobile art project.
On Saturday, there will be a family art-making workshop in which participants can add to a Building Bridges mural; a Greenlight Bookstore pop-up shop; a “Drawn Together” workshop led by “Bordering the Imaginary” artists Vladimir Cybil Charlier, Antonio Cruz, and garcia; Juanli Carrión’s “Memelismos: Memories from the Other Side” participatory storytelling installation; more walking tours; screenings of short films and Jeremy Williams’s On a Knife Edge; the discussions “Reflections on the DACA and the DREAM Act: Erika Harrsch & Yatziri Tovar” and “Haiti-NYC-DR: Reflections from the Diaspora,” the latter with Suhaly Bautista-Carolina, Edward Paulino, Albert Saint Jean, Ibi Zoboi, and moderator Carolle Charles; and a RAGGA x BRIC dance party with DJs Oscar Nñ of Papi Juice, Serena Jara, LSXOXOD, and Neon Christina and a live performance by Viva Ruiz. Sunday features a gallery tour and the closing talk “Biscuits without Borders” by Jess Thorn, aka Touretteshero. In addition, the exhibitions “Under the Same Sky . . . We Dream” by Erika Harrsch and “What time is it there?” by Katie Shima will be on view throughout the festival.
The New York Botanical Garden
Enid A. Haupt Conservatory
2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx
April 20-22, $12 children two to twelve, $28 adults ($38 for Orchid Evenings, adults only, 6:30 - 9:30)
The New York Botanical Garden’s 2018 orchid show, featuring installations by Belgian floral artist Daniel Ost, closes this weekend, but not before a flurry of special events in conjunction with Earth Day. On Friday at 11:00 am, Charles Peters will discuss his new book, Managing the Wild: Stories of People and Plants and Tropical Forests, in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library, and the Discovery Center at the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden will host activities for children from 1:30 to 5:30. Orchid Evenings take place Friday and Saturday night, with specialty cocktails, music by DJ X-RAY, Alice Farley’s Orchid Dancers, and a nighttime viewing of the show. On Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 4:00, there will be a Herbarium Open House in the Steere Herbarium and “The Scientist Is In” booth on Conservatory Plaza. In addition, the fifteen-minute animated film Tree of Life will screen continuously in Ross Hall from 11:00 to 5:00, there will be tours of the conservatory and laboratory and demonstrations of the Hitachi TM4000 PLUS Tabletop Scanning Electron Microscope, and the Earth Ball will be on display on the Conservatory Lawn.
New York Live Arts
219 West 19th St. between Seventh & Eighth Aves.
April 18-22, free - $30
The annual Live Ideas festival at New York Live Arts has previously explored the legacies of Dr. Oliver Sacks and James Baldwin, examined social, political, artistic, and environmental issues (curated by Laurie Anderson), and looked into a nonbinary future (curated by Mx Justin Vivian Bond). The five-day 2018 festival, “Radical Vision,” asks such questions as “How do we not simply protect democracy but make it stronger?,” “What are new (radical) ways forward — ways that go to the roots of our current democratic crisis?,” “What is your radical vision of Democracy?,” and “What would you give up to make it real?” New York Live Arts will host live performances, panel discussions, special presentations, and participatory events addressing these issues, kicking things off on April 18 with a gala at Irving Plaza honoring Elizabeth A. Sackler and Bryan Stevenson, with performances by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Samora Abayomi Pinderhughes, Abby Z and the New Utility, and Esperanza Spalding. The festivities then move to New York Live Arts, with three days of free public readings on democracy, the forum “Bending Towards Justice?,” “The Press + the Resistance,” “By the People?,” and “How Do We Prepare for Trump’s Second Term?,” with such creators and thinkers as Xenobia Bailey, Lawrence Lessig, Alicia Hall Moran, Roger Berkowitz, Emily Johnson, Max Kenner, and Erin Markey. Live Ideas 2018 concludes April 22 at 7:30 ($10) with the Democrazy Ball, with DJ JLMR and performances by Daphne Always and the Dauphine of Bushwick. Below are some of the other highlights of “Radical Vision.”
Wednesday, April 18
Contents Under Pressure: Democracy in Crisis, keynote conversation with Sherrilyn Ifill and Professor Lawrence Lessig, moderated by Bill T. Jones and with an opening performance by mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran with artist and puppeteer Matt Acheson, $15-$30, 6:30
Thursday, April 19
Dahlak Brathwaite: Spiritrials, one-man multidimensional play written by and starring Dahlak Brathwaite, with a score by Brathwaite and Dion Decibels, directed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Sean San Jose, $15-$30, 8:00
Friday, April 20
Mike Daisey: The End of Journalism, monologue, $15-$30, 8:00
Saturday, April 21
Zephyr Teachout: Hands-on Politics, workshop with Zephyr Teachout, free with advance RSVP (suggested donation $5-$10), 1:00
Resistance & Friends, with live performances by vocalist and composer Like a Villain (Holland Andrews), singer Joseph Keckler, choreographer and dancer Marguerite Hemmings, drag queen and performance artist Ragamuffin, poet and performer Saul Williams, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, and choreographer and dancer Keely Garfield (Mandala), hosted by drag king Elizabeth (Macha) Marrero, $15-$25, 8:00
Sunday, April 22
Cynthia Hopkins: Learn a Song of Resistance, free with advance RSVP (suggested donation $10), 11:00 am
The Secret Court, staged reading by Abingdon Theatre Company, written by members of the Plastic Theatre and conceived by Tony Speciale, $12-$15, 12:30
Kenyon Adams: Prayers of the People, a secular liturgical performance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” participatory ritual/performance conceived by Kenyon Adams (little ray), directed by Bill T. Jones, featuring Cynthia Hopkins, Padraic Costello, Vinson Fraley, Rebecca L. Hargrove, Walker Jackson, and Adams, $15-$25, 6:00
Nobody builds an artistic community quite the way Emily Johnson does in her interdisciplinary, immersive works. With her Catalyst company, Johnson, a native Alaskan of Yup’ik descent who is based in Minneapolis and New York, creates unique, multisensory experiences that bond the performers with the audience. For Shore, she led ticket holders on a walk from a public school playground to New York Live Arts, following the path of the old Minetta Creek. For Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars, dozens of people came together on Randall’s Island from dusk to dawn, with art, dance, storytelling, cooking, eating, napping, and more. Her latest participatory presentation is Kinstillatory Mappings in Light and Dark Matter, taking place April 13, May 25, June 8, and July 24 from 7:00 to 10:00 in the outdoor amphitheater at Abrons Arts Center. On April 13, the celebratory fireside gathering will feature story and song offerings from Rick Chavolla, Tatyana Tenenbaum, and Georgia Lucas, a look at the stars, and dancing. Admission is free, and no RSVP is necessary. You can bring food, but sharing is up to you. The event will not be held in case of inclement weather. Prepare to be charmed by the effervescent Johnson, whose other works include Niicugni, The Thank-You Bar, Pamela, and Give Me a Story, Tell Me You Love Me.
If you’ve wondered what that strangely curious building going up on West Thirtieth St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves. is, we now know. It’s called the Shed, which bills itself as “the first arts center designed to commission, produce, and present all types of performing arts, visual arts, and popular culture.” The Shed, a 200,000-square-foot structure designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with the Rockwell Group, will open next spring with intriguing, exciting projects by Steve McQueen and Quincy Jones; Gerhard Richter and Steve Reich; Anne Carson with Ben Whishaw and Renée Fleming; Trisha Donnelly; Agnes Denes; and others. “The original idea for the Shed was relatively simple: provide a place for artists working in all disciplines to make and present work for audiences from all walks of life,” Shed artistic director and CEO Alex Poots, formerly director of the Park Ave. Armory, said in a statement. “Our opening programs begin to show how these artists, art forms, and audiences can thrive together under one roof.” But before the Shed officially opens, it will be holding a preopening program, “A Prelude to the Shed,” in a flexible, transformable venue in an undeveloped lot at Tenth Ave. and West Thirty-First St., designed by architect Kunlé Adeyemi of NLÉ Works and conceptual artist Tino Sehgal. “‘A Prelude to the Shed’ is an exploration of architecture as an extension of human body, culture, and environment. Can architecture be more human?” Adeyemi explained in a statement. “This curiosity led us to reconfigure a steel shed into a comfortable interface to interact with people physically; inside and outside, in light and darkness, individually and collectively. Using simple technologies, we made the structure so that it can be moved and transformed by people, enabling its participation in different formats of art, education, events, and public life.”
From May 1 to 13, visitors with advance free tickets can see live music and dance, panel discussions, art installations, and more. (There should be some walk-up availability as well.) Each session includes Sehgal’s continuous, immersive dance/sound piece This variation, which interacts with choreographer William Forsythe’s Pas de Deux Cent Douze, a reimagining of the central duet from his 1987 ballet In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. On some nights, Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray will lead “D.R.E.A.M. Ring Dance Battles,” part of FlexNYC. Several nights will feature live solo concerts by ABRA, Arca, and Azealia Banks; on other nights there will be panel discussions organized by Bard professor Dorothea von Hantelmann with Shed senior program adviser Hans Ulrich Obrist and chief science and technology officer Kevin Slavin. Among the topics are “Transformative Topologies: Past, Present, and Future Functions of Art Institutions,” “Beyond the Mind/Body Division: Neuroscience, Technology, Spirituality,” “Agnes Denes: Animale, Rationale, Mortale,” and “A Global Dialogue That Is Not Globalization,” boasting such international thinkers as Manthia Diawara, Tim Morton, Avital Ronell, Barbara Browning, Moncell Durden, Nelson George, Frankie Decaiza Hutchinson, Akeel Bilgrami, Joy Connolly, Tim Ingold, Emily Segal, and Richard Sennett. And on May 5 and 12 at 11:30 am, Asad Raza, Jeff Dolven, and D. Graham Burnett’s “Schema for a School” experimental course for students will be open to the public. “Prelude” will also pay tribute to architect Cedric Price’s unrealized 1961 building “The Fun Palace” with an archival interactive display. We’re out of breath already, and this is only the preopening. So we’ll let von Hantelmann sum it all up: “Art institutions — museums, exhibitions, theaters, concert halls, festivals — have always been spaces in which a social structure becomes manifest. To find ritual forms that correspond to contemporary forms of life and to the social structures of the early twenty-first century, that is the aspiration to which this project is dedicated.”
A few weeks before the world premiere of Everything Is Imaginable, New York City treasure Jack Ferver tore his calf while preparing a piece for Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung at the Guggenheim. But leave it to the Wisconsin-born actor, writer, dancer, choreographer, teacher, and director to incorporate the injury into the narrative of the two-act, seventy-minute show. As the audience enters the theater at New York Live Arts, the curtain is down, a rarity at the venue, upping the growing sense of anticipation that accompanies every Ferver work. The curtain soon opens on Jeremy Jacob’s playful set, consisting of four white cardboard columns with drawings of leaves on them, along with a central cardboard chandelier hovering at the top of a screen in the back. It immediately immerses the crowd into the wonders of Ferver’s imagination while exposing the artifice behind staged productions in general. The first act features four queer men in sheer, butt-revealing outfits dancing solos inspired by their childhood memories and one major role model: American Ballet Theater principal James Whiteside, in a short, glittering dress of silver sequins, pays tribute to Judy Garland, dancing to Garland’s version of Cole Porter’s “I Happen to Like New York”; Martha Graham principal dancer Lloyd Knight honors Graham, moving to a recording of the legendary choreographer speaking about dance; dancer and actor Garen Scribner slides across the stage in socks and does spins like his hero, champion skater Brian Boitano, to the sound of ice skates being sharpened and gliding across the ice; and longtime Ferver collaborator Bartelme, a former ballet dancer and current costume designer (as part of Reid and Harriet Design, who made the costumes for the show), wears a long orange mane and dances with horse movements, since his idol is My Little Pony. Each solo combines humor with beautiful movement, taking advantage of each dancer’s strengths while adding the charm and whimsy that are mainstays of Ferver’s choreography. The four star turns are followed by a solo about sunglasses and then an ensemble piece danced to “club music,” including a Martha Graham–esque sexualized orgy that is uproariously funny.
After a ten-minute intermission (with the curtains closed), the second act begins with Ferver (Chambre, Night Light Bright Light) by himself onstage, standing over a miniature version of the set from the first act, evoking Stonehenge from This Is Spinal Tap. In a sheer bodysuit recalling Michelle Pfeiffer’s garb as Catwoman in Batman Returns, the compact Ferver towers over the tiny columns and chandelier, emphasizing his power as a creator while also poking fun at it. Ferver talks about his calf injury, explaining how that limited his ability to dance — his doctor advised him not to move forward, which is not part of his vocabulary, literally or figuratively — and forced him to reimagine the work, and discusses his difficult childhood, friendless and bullied for his overt homosexuality; growing up gay is a regular theme in his oeuvre. As always, his stage persona is that of a devilish cherub, wild and wacky one moment, making the audience roll around their seats with laughter, and then deadly serious the next, raising disturbing elements from his life that may or may not be true, causing everyone to reconsider their reactions. He’s joined by Bartelme, who looks lovely in a fringe dress, and the two dance together to heartbreaking effect while Ferver, soldiering on despite his injury, goes on to describe his process of writing a memoir, which took place alone, terrified, in a strange house, in the dark. Ferver is no longer friendless or alone, as evidenced not only by the crowd response to the supremely personal show but by the long line of well-wishers who waited to hug and congratulate him for giving them yet another unique, meaningful, and vastly entertaining experience, shining a light on his life, and ours, as only he can.